Uncommon creates identity for Coventry’s 2021 City of Culture

The brand identity for Coventry Moves embraces the city’s past, present, and future, and contains icons and shapes inspired by brutalism and modernist architecture

Back in 2017, Coventry was named the 2021 City of Culture and the new branding for the upcoming year-long programme has just been unveiled. The programme, called Coventry Moves, aims to establish a template for a city fit for the future, and the identity combines elements of the city’s past, present and future.

The identity has been designed by Uncommon Creative Studio, and is inspired by brutalist elements and modernist architecture in a nod to the city’s rebuilding after World War II. Based on a modular system of squares and simple shapes, the identity also aims to play on the innovations, movements and stories that have come to characterise the city. The graphic icon in place of the ‘O’ for instance, can be interchanged with various circle-like symbols to represent the industries that have played a role in Coventry’s make-up, such as bicycles, clocks and watches, aircraft and music. 

Billboard poster for Coventry Moves

The bright blue that features throughout is tied to Coventry’s medieval past as a centre of the UK’s textile industry. Distilled from the colour of historical yarns, the hue has been named Moving Blue and adds brightness to an otherwise monochrome aesthetic.

“Branding and launching the UK City of Culture 2021 is an incredible opportunity,” says Nils Leonard, co-founder of Uncommon Creative Studio. “Coventry Moves is just the start, working closely with the incredible team in the city to build this year of activity and positivity is something we’re really proud to play our part in.”

Sheet poster for Coventry Moves
Lamp post banners for Coventry Moves

Coventry’s year as the UK City of Culture will begin in May 2021 (delayed slightly due to coronavirus), and will include a host of international artistic events, world premieres, and commissions across theatre, music, dance, literature, comedy, festivals and conferences. The cultural programme aims to highlight the way culture can be a force for change.

After a very competitive tender process we are thrilled to be working with Uncommon,” says Laura McMillan, director of operations and legacy at Coventry City of Culture Trust. “It was clear they got Coventry. They understood that although we are mostly known for our past, what is most exciting is our future. Our ambition and innovation, constantly moving us forwards with people at our heart. This is an identity designed to evolve and adapt as we do, as the city has always done.”

Branded stationary

To accompany the Coventry Moves identity is a one-minute film featuring archive footage. It includes pivotal moments and iconic locations from throughout the city’s history, from Coventry City’s 1987 FA Cup win to the city’s Two-Tone music scene, and even its infamous ring road.

Though the festival merch is speculative for now, the posters and banners, which also feature photographs of the people and places that make the city, can be seen across Coventry for the next two weeks, as a taster of what’s to come.

uncommon.london; coventry2021.co.uk